New York Times columnist Dan Barry will deliver the keynote address May 15 at St. Bonaventure University’s 156th Commencement ceremony.
A 1980 graduate of St. Bonaventure, Barry has been at the Times since 1995.
As the Times’ “This Land” columnist since 2007, Barry has traveled to all 50 states, taking readers beneath news stories and into obscure and well-known corners of the United States.
“To have Dan Barry, one of our nation’s great writers, speak to our graduates this year is truly a blessing,” said Sr. Margaret Carney, O.S.F., who will preside over her last Commencement; she announced in January she was stepping down after 12 years as university president.
“Dan’s unique role as a storyteller whose art unveils human goodness and drama at the deepest levels has given our Bonaventure community untold reasons for pride,” she said.
Barry has reported on many news events for the Times, including the attack on the World Trade Center and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He has been a City Hall bureau chief, a Long Island bureau chief, a sportswriter, a general assignment reporter, and, for three years, the “About New York” columnist.
Barry previously worked for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Conn., and for The Providence Journal, where he was part of an investigative team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for a series of articles about Rhode Island’s court system.
Barry is also the author of four books, including the forthcoming “The Boys in the Bunkhouse: Servitude and Salvation in the Heartland,” which was just named the All Bonaventure Reads selection for incoming freshmen in fall 2016.
Set to be released May 17, the book tells the story of dozens of men with intellectual disability who endured decades of exploitation — living in an old schoolhouse and working at an Iowa turkey-processing plant for little pay — before finding justice and freedom.
“Dan Barry gives dignity even to the darkest corners of the American experience. He is the closest thing we have to a contemporary Steinbeck,” said Colum McCann, author of the National Book Award-winning “Let the Great World Spin.”
His other books include a memoir, a collection of columns, and “Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game,” which won the 2012 PEN/ESPN award for literary sports writing.
Barry has received many other honors, including a George Polk Award; an American Society of Newspaper Editors Award for deadline reporting, for coverage of the first anniversary of Sept. 11; a Mike Berger Award for in-depth human interest reporting; an award for column writing from Sigma Delta Chi/Society of Professional Journalists; and the Best American Newspaper Narrative Award.
Putting all this in proper perspective was a fifth-place award for feature writing from the American Bowling Congress that misspelled his name.
Barry, who has lectured at universities around the country — including frequently at St. Bonaventure — lives in Maplewood, N.J., with his wife, Mary Trinity, ’81, and daughters, Nora and Grace.
Barry is among four people who will receive honorary degrees at Commencement. Also being honored are Fr. André Cirino, O.F.M., of Immaculate Conception Province; and Maureen and Ray Dee, ’64, longtime benefactors of the university.
Fr. André is a Franciscan itinerant preacher whose ministerial experience includes parish work, Franciscan formation, pilgrimages, retreats, as well as secondary and graduate education.
Fr. André helped establish the Little Portion Retreat House for the poor in Bronx, N.Y., and worked on a team in collaboration with Secular Franciscans offering retreats free of charge for eight years. He helped establish the TEC retreat program in the New York archdiocese and co-authored a retreat handbook, “Teens Encounter Christ.”
The Dees’ support of the university goes well beyond the three children they sent to St. Bonaventure.
Their philanthropy has included both major gifts in support of campus initiatives and numerous less heralded projects, such as helping students attend service trips. In 2011, the Dees established the Dee Family Endowment for the School of Business, providing funding in perpetuity for such things as curriculum development, technological upgrades and more.
The Dees also established an endowment fund for Mt. Irenaeus, the Franciscan mountain retreat in Allegany County.
Ray Dee was a member of the Board of Trustees from 2000 to 2015, serving his last three years as chair. He co-chaired the university’s 150th Anniversary Campaign, which raised more than $95 million for scholarships, faculty and staff development, research and programming, and he was honorary co-chair of the School of Business Campaign that resulted in construction of the William E. and Ann L. Swan Business Center.
Commencement Weekend kicks off with the annual Candlelight Induction Ceremony at 8:45 p.m. Friday, May 13, in front of De La Roche Hall on campus. (The rain site is the University Chapel.)
All commencement participants and guests of all faith traditions are invited to the Baccalaureate Mass to be held at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, in the Reilly Center Arena. The public is welcome.
Saturday’s events also include the commissioning of ROTC cadets as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army at 10 a.m. in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts; the Honors Awards Ceremony at 11:30 a.m. in the Reilly Center Arena; and the inaugural Multicultural Stole Ceremony for graduating students of color at 2:30 p.m. in the Quick Center for the Arts.
Commencement exercises begin at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, May 15, in the Reilly Center Arena. (The student processional starts at 10:08 a.m.) Tickets are required.
View a schedule of events at www.sbu.edu/commencement.
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